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Take a Chance #1

Posted: Saturday, December 20, 2008
By: Ray Tate

C.E. Murphy
Adrian Syaf with Jason Embury (colors)
Dabel Brothers
C.E. Murphy's Take a Chance runs on the premise that a genomic event has recently created super-heroes and super-villains. The difference between this and say DC's metagene craze of the nineties lies in the titular hero Chance. She has been fighting crime long before the paradigm change. She has no powers. Her intelligence, skill, impressive physique and hard-won experience in the field instead gives her the advantage.

The debut story takes place in the present, but it also opens up Chance's past through a judicious use of flashbacks. Murphy compacts a novel twist on the dark hero origin and in so doing gives the book a particularly feminist reflection.

Chance though a serious avenger is not morose. She may have expressed little emotion other than anger when she first put on the mask, but five years after the trauma that catalyzed the creation of her alter-ego, she has learned to smile and enjoy some aspects of her costumed life.

The dimension of humor gives Chance some depth, but on the whole she is still less substantial than Manhunter or the White Tiger. Her background has weight, but her present day self needs some work. I'm fairly certain that Murphy will deepen her personality in future issues. As is, she's not bad. I would call her a B-List hero, when compared to her hard-boiled vigilante sisters.

Part of Chance's appeal can be attributed to her look. Adrian Syaf designs a functional yet distinctive costume that gives her a somewhat iconic appearance. That's impressive when one considers that to this day the post-Crisis Huntress wears a generic knockoff of the costume worn by the original Earth-Two heroine and that it merely adds to her cardboard characterization.

Syaf's artwork is in the vein of Image's house style from the nineties. Even if it's not exactly my favorite aesthetic, Syaf's work is head and shoulders above the inspiration. He makes Chance look muscular and proportionate (most of the girls of the Image nineties looked scrawny, and the weight of their boobs should have caved in their waists).

Despite depending on such flourishes as shiny eyes and odd crinkled noses, Syaf still gives Chance's face depth (most of Image's nineties girls appeared to have been struck by frying pans, resulting in utterly flat faces).

Additionally, Syaf has a strong sense of space and refrains from intense detail (most, if not all, of Image's nineties artists cluttered panels with superfluous linework and a plethora of characters that appeared to be refugees from a kindergartner's coloring book).

I see a lot of potential in Take a Chance, and I'm willing to see if Murphy and Syaf can reach it. Chance could be the next Manhunter.



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